An Interview with Gloria Furman (Part 1)

In your book, you talk about stamping eternity on your eyeballs. How do you do this practically throughout the day?

Sounds like a fancy contact lens, doesn’t it? “Stamp eternity on my eyeballs” comes from a prayer that is attributed to Jonathan Edwards. It hearkens back to 2 Cor. 4:18 (“we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen… the things that are unseen are eternal”). We are a people who choose to look to God’s kingdom instead of to things that are transient. We smile at the future—an eternity of future grace is always hurtling toward us because of the work that Jesus Christ did on the cross two thousand years ago.

The seeing and remembering of this gospel, however, does not come easily. One way I try to think about this throughout the day is by listening to God’s word via our Seeds Family Worship CDs, the ESV audio Bible, or a chat with a friend on the phone.

How can a mom who struggles to get up in the morning and can barely stay awake at night due to exhaustion from raising young children make sure she’s staying in the Word?

Oh, that’s easy. Just name your bed “The Word.” Ha!

Sister, I am right there with you. This afternoon I realized that I did an entire morning routine as though it was Tuesday. Today is Thursday so I figure I’m five days ahead of the game.

Exhausted friend, I’ve got good news for you: the Lord knows and he loves you. He has numbered the hairs on your head and he knows the number of minutes of legitimate sleep you got last night. Isaiah 40:11 says, “He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.” Jesus is your Good Shepherd. He’s got you and me, sister, in his hands.

When you are dead on your feet then taking a nap can be the most spiritually invigorating thing you can do. But you specifically asked about staying in the Word, a struggle I can certainly empathize with. In times of desperate fatigue I’m often kicking myself for choosing to use what little, precious mental energy I do have to fill myself with fake food that can’t satisfy. Here are three thoughts that help me especially in those times:

  • God’s Word is sweeter than honey (Psalm 119:103).
  • “Staying in the Word” is not a mental, academic exercise; the Bible is the very breath of God speaking to us (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
  • And I love what this mental image from John Piper’s glad-hearted encouragement does for me: “Swim in the Bible every day—it is an ocean of bright, glorious, weighty, all-satisfying truth about the one for whom you were made.”

Do anything and everything you can do to press on to know the Lord (Hosea 6:3). For the health of our hearts and souls and our service to our precious little ones, we need to hear our Shepherd’s voice, especially in the midst of our exhaustion.

For the health of our hearts and souls and our service to our precious little ones, we need to hear our Shepherd’s voice, especially in the midst of our exhaustion.

Other than reading God’s Word, what are some other ways moms can soak in the truths of the gospel each and every day?

Treasuring the gospel is a community project—find girlfriends to help you (and you can serve them in this way, too). There are lots of excellent books, podcasts, and blogs out there that are specifically about drilling down to the heart of the gospel and applying it to all of life. Music is also a tremendous gift.

These days I can’t stop listening to the Getty’s recording from the TGC National Conference. There are some heavily weighted truths in those hymns that cast an anchor on Christ to hold me steady in the busyness of life. Read and listen wisely to material that is Scripturally-sound and will point you to keep seeking the city that is to come (Heb. 13:14).

What are some of the most meaningful ways your husband demonstrates his love for you on a regular basis?

So many things come to mind! Is reading a “love language?” If so, it’s mine. My husband finds ways to budget money so I can buy books, and he sets aside his favorite things to do in order to help me find time to read them. Another gift to me is that he often helps me with dinner. Because he’s not physically able to cook he blesses me by “calling dinner with the phone” (as our preschooler puts it).

What are some of the ways you demonstrate your love for your husband on a regular basis?

I know that it means a lot to my husband when I listen “with my face” when we’re talking even as the children are clamoring for my attention. This is far easier said than done, but I know he feels loved when I make an effort. It also blesses him when I try to anticipate the various help that he needs and gladly order my priorities to make those things happen.

How do you sift through all the conflicting information about “best practices” related to parenting?

I will give you the secret in exchange for a lifetime supply of Nutella.

Seriously, though, I think the key to this question is exactly what you said—understanding that “best practices” can be in conflict with one another. In a world of conflicting information, I would encourage you to seek wisdom from godly older moms—perhaps your own mom, your sisters, and women at your local church.

Something I keep learning (and forgetting) is a time-tested best practice called humility—according to Titus 2 I have a need to be trained and taught by older women in how to love my husband and my children. Books and blogs are good for this, but there’s no substitute for being with godly older women who know you and your family.

Embrace a sense of humor about the conflicting “best practices.” Isn’t it goofy that “they” (whoever the experts are) change their minds all the time?

How do you respond graciously to people who offer unsolicited parenting advice that you may or may not agree with?

This is a neat question. We moved to a global city in the Middle East when our oldest child was a baby. My experience with “unsolicited parenting advice” seems to be different than what I hear from my friends in the West. Most of the people here come from cultures in which “the village” raises the children, and the idea of “mommy wars” is foreign to them. In their worldview there is no such thing as “unsolicited” parenting advice because surely the frazzled mom in the checkout line at the grocery store is waiting to hear your encouraging words. Singles sit next to our crazy family in restaurants so they can distract talk to our kids while we’re eating. Grandfather-types and young men stop what they’re doing in government offices to play peek-a-boo with a fussy baby. A middle-aged woman in our building always opens her purse to give my kids candy in the elevator and she squeezes my shoulder saying, “God has blessed you!” The community dotes on children, and I love this about where we live.

When people say things that I don’t agree with I might talk with them more about it (depending on the context). Mostly I just say thank you because it’s not about their advice so much as it is an expression of their desire to help me be the ringmaster for four cheeky little monkeys.

I’ll tell you what is challenging about this, though—living under the expectation that I am part of the village that is helping look after other peoples’ kids. “Can’t they see that my hands are already full?” My flesh recoils at the selflessness required to serve the children afoot out in the community. It comes in conflict with the “mind your own business” mindset that I’m used to.

Read Part 2.

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